Why Men Commit Suicide: The Three Warning Signs Most People Miss

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About Jed Diamond Ph.D

Jed Diamond, Ph.D., is the Founder and Director of the MenAlive, a health program that helps men live long and well. Though focused on men’s health, MenAlive is also for women who care about the health of the men in their lives. Jed is the author of 11 books including his latest: Stress Relief for Men: How to Use the Revolutionary Tools of Energy Healing to Live Well. Since its inception in 1992, Jed has been on the Board of Advisors of the Men’s Health Network. He is also a member of the International Society for the Study of the Aging Male and serves as a member of the International Scientific Board of the World Congress on Gender and Men’s Health. His homepage is MenAlive.com.

Comments

  1. Great article…! And, yes, it is a challenge to try to help a friend, who denies that there is any problem with himself…

    Our longtime friend lost his father at age 7 years old…all he remembers is an angry man who whooped him with a belt if he did not bring home straight As on his report card….

    Our friend now has a 12 year old son…and his behavior at home is not pretty…

    We have tried to help them and support them..but we are being pushed away and shut out by cover-up lies…it seems our friend is trying to keep his father’s memory alive by imitating his behavior and words…very sad stuff…

  2. It scares me how well I fit these right now, and how extremely well I fit the “capacity” set.

    • Madeira, Its fine to be the breadwinner, but don’t ever let yourself believe that is your sole identity. Thanks for sharing your fears. Reaching out to others is good for us all.

  3. I came across this article because I am about to end my life soon. I am over 40 and after 2600 resumes, I have given up on ever finding a job again. I was not always like that. In my youth I was an outgoing person and athlete. I enjoyed life worked hard until a back injury forced me out of the electrical trade. At the age of 31, I made my biggest mistake. I went to college after advisors told me there was a need for legal assistants. After completion of my AS degree, no experience, no work. I went on to earn a BA degree and the same thing again. No experience no work. I have been without a job since I graduated in 2005. I have no more savings, I am depressed, I am an alcoholic and now too old to get a job. A few years back, I tried to get into a nursing program but they have long waiting lines to get in. I am now 44, with no hope to live a productive life and have no more energy nor drive to continue. I have given up sports which I always loved, I can not even get out of the house sometimes. I am not looking for sympathy here. I just came across this site and wanted to share my opinion. These job recruiters are mental and one day they will get old. I am looking forward not having to worry anymore soon and be done and over with all this. Thank goodness I have no kids in this world out there.

    • Please hang in there Mark. I’m 44, recently my wife left me and took our 4 kids because of my untreated depression and mental illness stemming from many years in the emergency services here in Australia. I too have lost my job through all this because I got in trouble with the police and most days for me are almost unbearable. I have no income, can’t support my kids and at the moment I am useless and a burden to those around me. I have no qualifications of any use and I accept that I’m at rock bottom. Please believe the rock bottom thing and believe the only way life can go is up. I look at the sky every day it is blue and convince myself things can only get better. I have made two suicide attempts in the past 12 months and I’m glad they were unsuccessful even though I still have some very bad days. Please hang in there.

  4. To Simon and Mark,
    I think you are both incredibly brave men. The world needs men like both of you. Men who feel things deeply. I know you are both having hard times but Do Not Give Up. Try something else. Even volunteering at a homeless shelter or some other needy place can give you a sense that life is worth not giving up on.
    You also understand others dispair and are obviously intelligent men so go and give to those worse than you. Who knows what other doors may open to you.
    Our darling boy left us suddenly 14 years ago when he was only 14. It was a bolt out of the blue. I want you both to know that our sons death and our daughter lost her brother has had a profound effect on our lives.
    He is out of whatever pain he was in and by not reaching out to us for help he has left us with the pain of his loss and the additional pain of our failure to save him. Please do not inflict this pain on those who love you and from the little I have read here you both sound like very lovable men. Life is a box of chocolates. You may have eaten all the horrible flavours but in amongst them are also those lovely flavours to enjoy.

    I wish you both the best and send you strength and belief in yourself.

  5. This article hits close to home. I was in the army and we didn’t lose any men over in Iraq. But since coming home we’ve lost three men to suicide. It’s hard to tell what the symptoms are, especially with military guys. All of us have the symptoms, “comfortable with blood,” “comfortable with death and dying,” etc. That was our everyday life over there. It’s why there’s twenty-two vets killing themselves everyday. Thanks for the article though!

    • Michael, Thanks for the comments. PTSD and other forms of trauma are treatable, but people who feel disconnected often don’t reach out. That’s why its so important for all of us to reach out through our writing, sharing our experiences, and creating an atmosphere of trust for people to know that they are not alone and that caring help is available by people who’ve been through similar experiences and understand something about their feelings.

  6. As a female who knows several females who committed suicide, as well as someone who has worked in adult mental health, I can’t help but shake my head at this article. Why are there a much large number of males who commit suicide? It’s been known forever that men who attempt suicide usually use more lethal means then women do. Women don’t have use guns, they often use medication. If you really intend to die, you can’t really “get it wrong” if you use a gun.

    Every female I know who went on to commit suicide felt all three of these things:
    1) A sense of not belonging, of being alone;
    2) A sense of not contributing, of being a burden;
    3) A capability for suicide, not being afraid to die.
    How on earth can this be considered unique to males? PEOPLE who kills themselves feel this way, no matter their gender.

  7. I tried to post a comment, but the screen reloaded so an ad could play, and I lost the whole thing. This is a newer shorter comment.

    Interesting article. Unfortunately, I can say all those things about myself. Fortunately, I’ve never thought of suicide. Though, I did wake up with chest pains several weeks ago, and just laid there hoping for the best.

    All I’ve wanted for my life was the opportunity to realize my full potential. I was going to college, with plans for medical school. Was getting straight A’s, and had excellent references. Then, a mountain of medical bills closed the door to med-school, along with all of my backup plans. I then spent around 10 years doing travelling contract work, because they supplied housing, which otherwise I would be living on the streets. After 10 years of doing that, money reared it’s head again, and I had to quit that path.

    During a 5-6 year period of unemployment I applied to well over 1000 positions. The result of all that was a job as a cashier at a department store. So, the result of all my hard work has been going from an aspiring pre-med student to a cashier with the lowest income I’ve ever had, having to depend on friends and family for my survival…all because of having had pile of medical bills that I couldn’t get past… My best estimates are that it will take me another 20+ years to get past all the damage that that has caused. I’ll be in my mid- to late- 60′s at that point. A little old to be finally starting a career. And that will be the first time I’ve ever been able to support myself.

    I truly feel like I’ve missed a ton of life. I have significantly more regrets than not. I’m tired of having to depend on others. I’m tired of having my entire life be dictated by money.

    He says in the article… “We often invest so much of our lives in our work, when we lose our jobs or retire we feel worthless, unable to contribute. It’s a short step to feeling we are a burden on those we love.” I’m 44 years old, and I’m still trying for the opportunity to get a career. I’m still trying to support myself. I am a burden to those I love, but they’ve all given up on me.

    Until my money situation improves, I guess it’s going to work each day and getting yelled at, degraded, and made to feel like crap.

  8. Why do you eliminate my comments. What are you afraid of.
    I stated that our North American society has become female oriented.
    Many men feel like failures and thus want to commit suicide.
    What’s wrong with that? As long as they don’t hurt anyone but themselves.
    Many women have stated that they live quite well without men.
    Universities have programs teaching women how defunct men are in the world.
    Yet heterosexual men cannot live without women.
    Our society only tolerates successful men.
    If men feel they are not a part of this world then they should exit.
    If women feel they are better off without men then let them live in such a world.

  9. A young man who worked for me (he was only 22) took his life last week and this has devastated me. I cannot understand it. He was so bright, continuing school to get his Masters this fall. If any one out there is planning to do this awful act – please stop and think about what happens to those you leave behind. I am not even family to this person, only knew him for a short period of time and I am reeling. I cried for two days and could barely function at work. You don’t know how far reaching your suicide is. It touches people beyond immediate family and friends. And suicide can be contagious – this young mans father committed suicide – and the grief that endures can make others want to stop living too. Please find a way, any way to not end your life. Look to those who have survived incredibly bad things and discovered joy. Realize that things always look different in the morning. When in a bad place mentally, do something to break the spell. Please. I will spend my entire life now wondering about this beautiful young person, and constantly asking WHY and wondering if I could have done something to prevent it.

  10. Allen lexy says:

    Well, the future is a big problem, especially when there are negative elements in a persons future, if there are obstacles in the future, the past is not a problem but if you can fix the future for suicidal people you will remove their need for suicide, they are avoiding some elements of the future let it be career, imprisonment, torture or anything else…….stop using complicated theories and just realize that people who don’t have obstacles or negative items in the future, or if you promise and assure 100% and have 100% proof that things will be fixed then you can eradicate the problem, but still having a perfect future is not a destiny that all of us are furnished to enjoy, so there will always be suicide as long as there are human beings………….

  11. wanna know why men commit suicide more then women..fact no one wants a man that fails at life but everyone wants a woman …some men can’t take failure and some can…I jumped out of a third story window in 2000 shattered both my legs and ankles spent six weeks in the hospital…why did I jump because I am a failure my accident didn’t change anything about my life just made it worse for me know I can’t work cause of my past injuries prevents me from it I’m dirt poor and have nothing what’s keeping me from trying again well the memories of my fall haunt me still today the suffering I went through the surgeries I had to put my ankles and lower legs back together still affect me to today…I ruined my life cause of a suicide attempt and regret it I might be poor as dirt but I have my life thanks to god and my life might never get any better cause people don’t care if I’m alive or dead I’m just a lost human in a rich mans world trying to survive

    • Dear John,

      There are no failures in life, only trials that make us stronger and wiser. There’s so much to be thankful for in life, everyone has a purpose in this world…everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has their own problems. Try to reach out to people, you can get what you want by helping others get what they want. Learn to accept and love yourself just as you are, I promise you life only gets better. God loves you!

      K

  12. “I feel disconnected from other people…”

    Thank you for writing this enlightening article….I could never understand this about my ex…. He felt disconnected from everybody… On the surface, he seemed like the normal suburban dad with three beautiful kids…I never really understood him….I think his near dying from peritonitis from a burst appendix as a young teen and the later death of his sister in an auto accident always separated him from normal living people….it is frightening to see how picture perfect people look on the outside at first… And then you scratch the surface and all the ugly stuff is revealed, like finding black mold when you peel away a wall in a house during renovation….

  13. I’m a little concerned that having a sub-heading “Suicide is a Primarily Male Problem” is dangerously divisive, and it’s making that same error of alienation that some of the more unhelpful sub-cultures of feminism makes of labelling something a “women’s issue” when it is in fact a “person’s issue”. The fact that suicide is four times higher in men is indicative and symptomatic of “men’s issues”, but I don’t think it’s necessarily helpful to say “Suicide is a male problem” (I know I’m skipping the crucial word “primarily” and I know that makes all the difference, but people aren’t going to hear that). Also the three causes of suicide are not different in a woman than they are in a men are they? They’re just more likely to converge in a male. So the question is what factors mean that a man is more likely to be socially disconnected – why are we so bad at making friends – is it a psychological flaw (i.e. something to do with the individual) or a sociological one (i.e. some difference in the way we all behave towards a man as opposed to a woman) or a bit of both? Why are we more inclined to feel burdensome? Is there something we contribute that is undervalued? Are the defining features of male worth too narrow? We know of a time when young women would commit suicide on account of sex, or moreover pregnancy, outside of wedlock made her feel like she’d lost all value – and that’s been addressed socially; we now have a different way of valuing women in which virginity plays no part. So we have to ask on what criteria male worth is judged that someone can, on an equally capricious twist of fate, decide that their worth has gone and is irretrievable. We know that, in fact, it’s to do with earning potential. Far too much store is placed on what a man earns as a guide to his worth, and we live in an economy that also believes that. “A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure.” was the choice phrase by the mother of free market monetarism in Britain. There’s no worth in the Van Gogh’s and Franz Kafka’s who die peniless with nothing but a body of work to show for it.

  14. David Wise says:

    The author makes it seem as though loneliness is the biggest component to suicide and I have disagree with that to an extent. I think a major reason people commit suicide and murder/suicide is the fear of losing their livelihood or romantic interest. When many people lose their job or go bankrupt, that’s when they take extreme measures. A broken marriage or relationship can also trigger a suicide. These situations in life produce the most stress and can lead to depression.

  15. The middle part, the questionnaire, reads like a poem.

  16. Eirik Rogers says:

    Thank you, Dr. Diamond, for such an informative article. Like you and so many others, my life has been deeply affected by the suicide of someone close to me. In my case, it was my best friend, and he left behind a widow and a young son, both of whom he loved very much. To me, he was like my big brother; we were best friends since we were ten. And none of us could save him.

    Dr. Joiner’s perspective is interesting because it is more than a look at suicide from the emotional sterility of a purely professional perspective. It has the added dimension of deep and sad personal experience. I suspect the answers he seeks are not only to quench a professional thirst for insight, but to address a personal longing to make sense of his father’s tragedy. So it is with the deepest respect that I question the absence of the fear of death as one of the tenets of his arguments defining one’s capacity for suicide.

    In my long climb out of the emotional crater left by my friend’s suicide, I was profoundly impressed by the memory of a conversation I had with him just two weeks before he killed himself.

    “Gee, I don’t want to die,” he said.

    I remember it sounded like a plea, as if he was trying to sway an executioner’s decision. I am convinced that he took his life not because he conquered the fear of death, but because he could not conquer the fear of living. The latter did not dilute the former; it steamrolled over it.

    My friend did not want to live in his pain any more. But that did not mean he wanted to die. He flat told me he didn’t want to die. And I thought it was enough to know that. The sudden and overwhelming resoluteness of his death just two weeks later completely blind-sided me. And so I feel compelled to share this, because if anyone looks to gauge the suicide potential in another by measuring their perceived fear of death, they may be in for a very nasty surprise.

    And when you think about it, a diminished fear of death merely lowers the hurdle over which one must jump. When that hurdle remains high, as I believe it was with my friend, it speaks a deeper truth to the immensity of pain that can cause one to overcome it.

    • I’m not sure that not wanting to die and not fearing death are the same. I stay alive because I don’t want to die–life is precious even in pain and there is always joy to remember or hope for–but I don’t fear dying. That lack of fear would probably make a difference if other things got worse.

  17. I think this is dead on. I am still alive right now for one reason only: my parents would miss me if I killed myself. There have been many times in my past where I would not have hesitated to end my life if I had not known that my parents needed me alive.

  18. I agree with everything you have written. I have tried to commit suicide 3 time when I was a teen. The last time was by cutting my wrists.

    Since than I think I became a successful businessman. My life has been on downward spiral for the last 3 years and I am very tired.

    I hope my 4th attempt will be successful, I am 35.

  19. I Can’t help but feel a lot of men commit suicide for simple loneliness, lack of intimacy, lack of sex. Rejection.

  20. Thank you for this article. Thank you.

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